Alternating Cup Game

Now that your dog has the general idea of how to find a treat under a cup, now we’re going to introduce your dog to finding treats under cups on either side of the experimenter.  Take a look at it and then we’ll break it down. 

  • As before, the dog will be held by the handler, while the experimenter places one cup to the RIGHT of themself and says “[Dog’s name], look!”, shows the treat, and then hides it under the cup. Again, make sure that your dog sees the treat go under the cup. You may have to get your dog’s attention a few times if they do not see it the first time. 

  • The experimenter then returns to their neutral position-- sitting, kneeling, or standing with their arms at their side. After 2 seconds, the experimenter says the release command, “okay.” 

  • As before, the handler releases the dog. If the dog doesn’t move within 3 seconds, the handler can nudge the dog (gentle, centered tap on the butt or shoulders). Once the dog moves, the handler should not touch the dog until the end of trial when they are retrieving the dog.

  • When the dog makes a choice, the experimenter and handler can praise the dog. The experimenter can take the cup away and the dog may eat the treat. Just as before, every dog’s response will be a little different, so we trust you to know when your dog has chosen a cup. 

  • After the dog eats the treat the handler can then return the dog back to the start position while the experimenter prepares for the next trial. 

  • You should continue this phase, alternating the treat location (under either the right or left cup), until the dog has successfully selected the correct cup for a total of 4 trials (they do not need to be consecutive trials). Importantly, you should make sure that they are comfortable selecting the cup on both sides -- they should choose 2 on the experimenter’s left & 2 on the experimenter’s right). After the dog has reached this criteria you may move on to the next game.

  • If your dog needs more than 12 trials to find the treat, you may want to give your dog a break and come back to this later. Again, we don’t want your dog to get frustrated -- this should be fun for you both!